As I am writing this, I sit in my new room. I hear the chatter of locals outside my window and the mopeds zoom past in the street. Here I am in the city of Alicante.
The hustle and bustle of making new friends and exploring a new city to call home, it something that is hard to describe in words. I have been dropped in a city that is rich in history and I am lucky to call this home.
Within my first week, I have began my intensive language class, moved in with a new family, hiked up El Castillo De Santa Barbara, began to discover the city, and walked over 100,000 steps! If anybody knows me, they know I am a total homebody. I talk to my mom on the phone everyday about 50 times a day and any chance I had in my busy schedule to go home, I took (even if it was just for dinner on a Tuesday night). This trip for me was a big step in taking the leap of faith and being extremely independent. While I am homesick, I am able to distract myself everyday by taking a new adventure. And FaceTime also helps!
Monday, I was picked up by my host family. That in itself was a huge shock for me. Adjusting to a new schedule with new people is difficult, however my host family has given me the support I need in order to succeed here! In my home, I have a sister, Gema, she is 17 years old. She helps me a lot with my Spanish. Since living in the home, I have seen my Spanish improve and I can't seem to shut off my "chip." In the home and in the CIEE study center, I primarily only speak Spanish, however when I am with my friends in the streets, we speak spanglish, every other word in English and Spanish.
Coming from New York to Spain is very different. Here, they like to take things "more eslow." Yes, eslow because in Spain, it is difficult or impossible to say the 's' sound at the beginning of the word on its own. Before I continue, I must add SIESTAS ARE A REAL THING!!!!!!!!!!!! The first thing we did when we arrived to the house was eat (my favorite part). The bread. The cheese. Everything is AMAZING! for lunch, around 2:00-3:00, we eat a large meal (dinner in the United States. After we eat, we rest. If you try and go out to the stores anytime between 1:00-4:00, you will find that everything is closed! Hence, the siesta is real! Around 5:00, the stores open up and you go back to work. around 10:00 is when dinner is (yes, 10:00 at night) and the meal is significantly smaller. For dinner, you may eat a bocadillo (sandwich) con jamon, queso aceite de oliva, tomate, y sal (my favorite) or un tortilla de patata (another favorite) but you can always count on fresh bread and cheese being a big part of the meal! I also had my first Paella this weekend!
Also during my first week, my classmates and I climbed the iconic Castillo de Santa Barbara. Dating back to the 9th century, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Alicante. It is one of the highest points in the city and has the best views. The climb up was difficult but the view was worth it. I hope to do this climb A LOT while I am here in Alicante.
I have more photos on my camera, I will upload those later.
Around every corner in Alicante, you come across something new. On our first day of class, we took a walking tour of the city. We were showed the "go-to" spots such as El Barrio (the neighborhood where all the bars are), El Corte Ingles (basically a Wal-Mart and Macys packed into one with "American things), and the beach.
The nightlife in Alicante is very different than in the U.S. For one, they don't leave their homes until midnight!!!! If any of you know me, I am a grandma and I am most likely in bed by then on a Friday/Saturday night. Because they don't go out until very late, they also get home very early the following morning (4 or 5 or even 6 in the morning). With my "grandmas-ish" ways, I came home at 3 and that was early!
Everyday, I become more and more accustomed to this city. While I am missing my family at home more than anything, I know this will be an experience of a lifetime. I am lucky enough to have this opportunity. I have began to plan some travel with my friends both here in Alicante in my program and my friends from SHU who are studying in various locations. I am so excited to see what this semester has in store for me! And P.S., the "study" part of study abroad is also real, I have my first mid term exam tomorrow for my intensive language class!